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Man attempts to smuggle nearly 650,000 cigarettes into Southampton docks

A man smuggled hundreds of thousands of illicit cigarettes into a Southampton Port.

Mitchell Scott, who set himself up as an online vaping retailer to front his illegal importation, was arrested by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers in Hove on 1 February 2017.

The department’s investigation began in July 2016, after Border Force officers at Southampton Container Port discovered 642,200 counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes in a shipping container.

The illicit cigarettes were found hidden under wooden chairs in 93 boxes, and box 94 was full of vaping equipment.

Scott, of Nevill Road, Hove, pleaded guilty to evading excise duty at Lewes Crown Court on 21 December 2017.

The 59-year-old was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years, at the same court on 23 January 2018.

Scott was also given a community payback order of 240 hours unpaid work.

Following the hearing, Richard Wilkinson, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Mitchell Scott tried to rip-off legitimate retailers by smuggling counterfeit cigarettes into Southampton Port. Import documents with false information were meant to stop the illegal load being discovered.

“HMRC works with Border Force to reduce the availability of illicit tobacco, which costs the UK around £2.5 billion a year. We encourage anyone with information about the smuggling, storage or sale of illegal cigarettes to report it to HMRC online or call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

Source: The Daily Echo